Today I could no longer put off changing the “about Kristin” page on this blog. What I changed — and my heart slides to my feet as I say it — is the paragraph about sharing my life with Phoebe, a beagle, and Logan, a German shepherd. Several months ago, they died within weeks of each other. One moment I had my beautiful animal family, and the next, I didn’t.
Logan’s arthritis finally prevented him from getting up on his own, and he snapped at my husband, John, and me to stop us from helping him to his feet. Phoebe began to cough, and blood tests and x-rays revealed inoperable tumors. There was no choice but to say goodbye to both of our beloved dogs and face the loss.
It’s horrible when one cherished pet dies, but two was sad beyond measure. For weeks the house’s silence gnawed at me. I hated washing lettuce, the dogs’ favorite treat. I went to the kitchen to pour kibble into a bowl, and I carefully crossed the bedroom at night so as not to step on paws — and then I remembered my dogs were gone. Tears slid down my cheeks.
To me, putting down an animal is the hardest task there is. Though it was my last way to show my love, the guilt for killing what I so deeply loved was overwhelming. Knowing I did the right thing didn’t help. All I could do was wait for my heart to process the loss and replace my grievous mental picture of the dogs’ last breaths with memories of happy times. Now I think of Logan’s prance across the lawn to catch his Frisbee, and Phoebe’s gleeful chomp into her freshly broiled chicken.
For comfort, I remind myself of the beauty in their deaths — the end of suffering, the freedom, the moving on. I remember the kindness of supportive friends. Cards and emails poured in. Kathy and Brad invited us to sunny California. Elizabeth brought flowers from her family, and Marielle and Bill arrived with memorial rhododendron and camellia bushes to bloom each year on the anniversaries of Logan and Phoebe’s deaths.
I know that life goes on, and other dogs will find their way into my heart and home. Certainly, life is all about love, which chases us down and catches us, guaranteed. When I think of the universe’s vastness of space and time, I marvel that my life intersected with Logan and Phoebe’s and we were allowed to love each other and be a family. That was huge gift. And our love lives on.